My name is Ambreen Sadiq, I am a 20 year old Muslim female boxer currently training to be on the GB team for the 2020 Olympics. I was the first female Muslim boxer in the UK and I don't want to be the last! I hope my story inspires other women and girls to come forward and be the best they can be.
At the age of 15, I was fully immersed in boxing and started competing competitively but this came with a price tag I wasn't expecting. At first my local community would give me a hard time, especially the males saying it was not normal for girls to dress in boxing clothes and box. However, I never let this stop me from achieving my dream. My father went as far as talking to the local Imaam at the mosque for his thoughts on my boxing career. The Imaan was very supportive and encouraged my father to support me as a positive role models to others by encouraging people to lead active healthy lifestyles through sport.
I was also on a mission of my own to prove women and men are equal in Islam and it is not for Muslims to judge each other. Islam promotes good health and fitness and encourages both men and women to engage in physical activity to maintain healthy lifestyles.
I wanted to make a positive stance, not only for myself but for all Muslim women and show with the right attitude , perseverance and drive anything can be achieved. I owe it to my brother who would always stand by me when I wanted to box and told me never to give up on my dreams. He was destined to be a footballer but had an accident 3 years ago which left him disabled so I owe it to him not give up on my dream.
I was approached by the Common Wealth Theatre group who wanted to do a theatre production about my story called No Guts, No Heart, No Glory. I felt this would be the perfect way for me to showcase women in sports and educate my community at the same time. The production has just been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in a boxing gym and received the 2014 fringe first award and was nominated for an amnesty international award. The show will now be performed in Bradford from the 9th to 21st September 2014 at Huggys ABC Gym which is also the gym I train at. I would encourage people to come down, men, women and families, to see first hand how dreams can become reality.
Over the last few years I have broken down misconceptions and barriers when it comes to Muslim women participation in sport. I have gained the respect of my local and Muslim community who now see how women in sports can make a positive contribution to society and see me a role model.
My early family life
As a young Asian female I was shaped heavily by my traditional Pakistani family and a culture where women taking part in sport was never talked about. It was a taboo for us Muslim girls, but I always wondered why.
My mum and dad met in a restaurant where she was the manager and he was chef in Jersey Island. They decided to marry and move to the UK in 1991, like other immigrants the ambition was to create a better a life for themselves and their children.
You could say the engine was barely cold on the plane they traveled on and they both started work. Having 3 sisters and 1 brother I was always more drawn to my brother where we would regularly play a variety of sports in the house, street and local park.
It was my father and brother who introduced me to the sport of boxing at 13. I was introduced to a gym which was cold and full of males yet my brother encouraged me to get involved and show the boys anything they can do I can do better. Ever since I walked into the gym I've never looked back. If it wasn't for my brother and the support of my family I would never have been where I am today.
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